February factory output rises for first time in three months in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japanese factories posted their first rise in output in three months in February as resilience in global demand led to a rebound in car production, a welcome sign for policymakers hoping to keep the country's fragile economic recovery on track, said Reuters.

The increase, however, was smaller than market expectations, underscoring the lingering impact of supply chain bottlenecks and other risks such as surging costs of raw materials. Factory output rose 0.1% in February from the previous month, official data showed on Thursday, as growing production of cars and transport equipment offset a decline in chemicals.

That meant output returned to growth after slipping 0.8% in January and 1.0% in December. The increase was weaker than a 0.5% gain forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. The outlook for the world's third-largest economy has weakened after energy and commodity prices soared following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last month. Prices for raw materials have surged, saddling exporters with higher input costs, while supply chain disruptions have increased.

"The situation in Ukraine is likely to worsen the parts shortage further," said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research. "It feels like there's a risk the recovery in output will be delayed further."

Japanese automakers and suppliers are also facing headwinds from coronavirus-related disruptions in China, the world's largest market. Thursday's data showed output of cars and other motor vehicles gained 10.9% from the previous month in February, rebounding after a sharp contraction in January as pressure from parts shortages eased.

Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expected output to advance 3.6% in March and 9.6% in April.

We remind, Japanese ethylene production in January fell 6.1% from the same month a year earlier to 507,500 tonnes. Ethylene, made from naphtha, is a basic feedstock for petrochemicals that are processed into products such as plastics.

Ethylene is the main feedstock for the production of polyethylene (PE).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,265,290 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2021, up by 14% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. supply of injection moulding PP random copolymers decreased significantly.


Chevron to start California, crude unit overhaul in mid-April

Chevron to start California, crude unit overhaul in mid-April

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chevron plans to begin an overhaul of the crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 245,271-bpd Richmond, California, refinery in mid-April, reported Reuters with reference to two sources familiar with plant operations' statement on Thursday.

Chevron spokesman Tyler Kruzich declined to comment on day-to-day operations.

Chevron will shut the 240,000-bpd CDU for the overhaul, the sources said. The CDU breaks down crude oil into hydrocarbon feedstocks for all other units at the refinery.

The 59,000-bpd jet fuel hydrotreater at the Richmond refinery remains shut. It was shut on March 21.

As MRC informed before, about 500 workers at the refinery have been on strike since March 21, and Chevron continues to operate the plant with managers and supervisors.

We remind that Chevron Phillips Chemical, a joint venture of Phillips 66 and Chevron, will make a final investment decision on a new cracker in far southeast Texas in 2022, followed by an FID in 2023 on an USD8 billion joint venture petrochemical complex along the US Gulf Coast in 2023.

Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,487,450 tonnes in 2021, up by 13% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 1,494.280 tonnes, up by 21% year on year. Deliveries of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whreas.shipments of PP random copolymers decreased significantly.

Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron Corporation is the the second-largest integrated energy company in the United States and among the largest corporations in the world. Chevron is involved in upstream activities including exploration and production, downstream activities including refining, marketing and transportation, and advanced energy technology. Chevron is also invested in power generation and gasification processes.

Kraton expands AMS resin capacity in France

Kraton expands AMS resin capacity in France

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kraton Corporation, a leading global sustainable producer of specialty polymers and high-value biobased products derived from pine wood pulping co-products, announces a significant investment in its Alpha Methyl Styrene (AMS) Resins facility in Niort, France, said the company.

Kraton expects the investment will result in a 15% production increase at the Niort manufacturing facility by 2023. In addition to the capacity increase, Kraton anticipates the investment will lead to a 70% reduction in solvent consumption, creating a favorable impact on the product life cycle by the end of 2022.

Kraton's AMS Resins, also known as Pure Monomer Resins, are sold in high-end applications such as Tread Enhancement Additives for premium tires and as high-performance tackifying resins in fast-growing adhesive markets. Kraton's SYLVATRAXX™ Tread Enhancement Additives improve the overall performance of tire treads in terms of wet grip, low rolling resistance, and durability, thus enabling safer driving, better fuel efficiency and range. Due to increasingly stringent car emission standards across the globe, these high-performance additives have seen substantial demand growth.

"The rise in Electric Vehicles (EV) also contributes to this growth, as the increased EV weight and higher torque bring new challenges in tire performance," said Torsten Schmidt, Vice President of Commercial, Kraton Pine Chemicals. "Our SYLVATRAXX products continue to gain popularity across the entire tire value chain as they enable our customers to meet these new requirements."

In recent years, Kraton has made significant investments in AMS Resins at the manufacturing facility in Niort, resulting in added operational capacity and improved asset reliability. As customer demand increases, the new growth project focuses on advancing production efficiencies while improving the site's environmental footprint.

In parallel with the current expansion projects, Kraton is exploring additional manufacturing expansion opportunities at the Niort plant beyond the 2023 horizon.

As per MRC, Kraton Corporation announced its CirKular+ performance enhancement series C2000 and C3000 have been approved as fully compatible with recycling of polypropylene (PP) containers in Europe according to RecyClass. Pellets containing 5 wt.% of either CirKular+ C2000 or C3000 resin blended in an injection molding PP grade matrix were tested according to the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) critical guidance for PP rigid containers.

As MRC wrote before, in April, 2021, The American company Kraton announced that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted an emergency exemption for the use of its new sulfonated polymer, which rapidly inactivates the coronavirus. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an emergency permit for the use of the polymer in the states of the United States, Georgia, Utah and Minnesota for specific applications to protect against the COVID-19 virus.

Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., comprised of the functional division of Kraton Polymers LLC and its subsidiaries, is the world's leading manufacturer of specialty polymers and styrene block copolymers (SBCs). The company's manufacturing base consists of five factories, including a central plant in Belpre, Ohio, as well as factories in Germany, France, Brazil and a joint manufacturing venture in Japan.


Singapore chemicals output fall 2.7% in February

Singapore chemicals output fall 2.7% in February

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Singapore's chemicals cluster output fell by 2.7% year on year in February while overall manufacturing production was up by 17.6%, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said in a statement.

On a year-on-year basis, output in the specialties, petrochemicals and other chemicals segments contracted by 2.0%, 3.1% and 8.8%, respectively in February, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said in a statement.

On a year-to-date basis, output of the chemicals cluster fell by 2.4% compared to the same period a year ago.

Singapore’s overall manufacturing output increased 17.6% year on year in February, supported by the surge in electronics and biomedical production.

Electronics output jumped by 32.4% year on year in February while biomedical manufacturing was up by 25.3%.

As per MRC, Shell has become the first supplier of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Singapore, and plans to start blending the fuel at its plant in the aviation hub. The first batch of SAF was blended in Europe, Shell said in a statement.

Also, Neste plans to produce its first batch of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Singapore by the end of 1Q 2023 after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its expansion project. Neste produces renewable fuels, mainly from waste and residues such as used cooking oil, animal fat from food industry waste, fish fat from fish processing waste and residues from vegetable oil processing.


W.R. Grace to raise FCC catalysts and additives prices

W.R. Grace to raise FCC catalysts and additives prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- W. R. Grace & Co. a leading independent provider of polyolefin catalyst technology and process services, stated that it will increase prices for its fluid catalytic cracking catalysts and additives this year as contracts allow, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

As Grace offers products and services that continue to deliver increasing value, it faces rapidly escalating costs for key raw materials and energy, including aluminum-derived chemicals and natural gas. In addition, freight and logistics costs continue to rise at an extraordinary rate.

Grace remains focused on reducing operational expenses through increased efficiencies, however, those efforts cannot completely offset unprecedented inflationary trends.

As MRC reported previously, W. R. Grace & Co., has recently awarded Oriental Energy a UNIPOL polypropylene (PP) process license for its Maoming plant in China. This is Oriental Energy's fifth PP production line and its fourth, which uses the Grace UNIPOL PP process with a production capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 1,494.280 tonnes in 2021, up by 21% year on year. Deliveries of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whreas shipments of PP random copolymers decreased significantly.

W.R. Grace, a standard industries company, is a leading global supplier of catalysts and engineered materials. The company’s two industry-leading business segments - Catalysts Technologies and Materials Technologies - provide innovative products, technologies, and services that enhance the products and processes of our customers around the world. With approximately 4,300 employees, Grace operates and/or sells to customers in over 60 countries.